Douglas reunited with Ravens

OWINGS MILLS -- Marques Douglas headed west four years ago, never envisioning an unlikely reunion with the Baltimore Ravens. When the hard-nosed defensive lineman signed as a free agent with the San Francisco 49ers, he figured it was a case of ties being permanently cut.

The Ravens had expressed little interest in signing him to a new contract despite persistent lobbying from defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Flash forward to today and Douglas has come full circle.

After a successful stint with the 49ers and a disastrous four months with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after signing a four-year, $10.1 million contract this spring, Douglas was traded last week to the Ravens for a late-round 2009 draft pick and a conditional 2010 draft pick.

"I feel the love," Douglas said following the Ravens' 10-9 loss to the Atlanta Falcons to conclude the preseason. "I appreciate it more, I appreciate being on a team, being in a locker room, where people really care about football.

"This is awesome. When I got the call that I was going back to Baltimore, I was like, 'Hey, I'm all for it.' This was the best thing for me."

Douglas had expected to fulfill a key role with the Buccaneers, but it wound up being a terrible fit as his playing time dwindled behind Kevin Carter. In retrospect, Douglas is more suited to the Ravens' 3-4 defensive alignment than the Buccaneers' 4-3 set that emphasizes tall defensive ends.

Upset at not being allowed by Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to compete with Carter for the job, the former Howard University standout is relieved to return to familiar territory.

"It has been crazy, but now you know the lay of the land, you know the streets, you know where to go," Douglas said. "I know the guys on this team, and that makes it a little bit easier. I've been here for 10 years in this area, so that helps.

"It felt great to be out here with my teammates to go to war. Some memories came back. I received a few love taps from the Atlanta Falcons."

The Ravens were excited to acquire a blue-collar defensive lineman who plays like every snap could be his last. As a starter in Baltimore from 2003 to 2004, Douglas recorded 133 tackles and 10 sacks.

Douglas still recalls a lot of the Ravens' defensive schemes and didn't appear lost during a brief appearance against Atlanta where he registered one tackle.

"He did all right," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He had a crash course with Clarence Brooks. He remembered a lot of it and did real well."

At 6-foot-2, 292 pounds, Douglas is the opposite of flashy.

He's built a reputation as a stocky, lunch pail type who gets the job done through maximum effort and outstanding leverage and technique with a low center of gravity.

For his career, he has 335 tackles and 19 sacks. He's due a $1 million base salary this year and $2.4 million apiece in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

He has started 47 of the past 48 regular-season games for 49errs head coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Douglas is best known for stuffing offensive linemen so that linebackers like Ray Lewis can make the tackle and chasing the football relentlessly in pursuit, which is why he remains a Ryan favorite.

"The one thing I love about Rex is he's going to put you in good position0Ato be successful," Douglas said. "He allows you to hit the gap and dictate to the offense. With guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, they're going to give it their all every Sunday.

"That's a lot more than I've had the past three years. When you step on that field, you had better know what you're doing because there's no room for error on that Ravens' defense. It's 1,000 times better to be here."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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